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Futures Flat As Yen Discombobulation Extends To Record 13th Day

Futures Flat As Yen Discombobulation Extends To Record 13th Day

After some jerky rollercoaster moves in Monday’s illiquid trading session,…

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Futures Flat As Yen Discombobulation Extends To Record 13th Day

After some jerky rollercoaster moves in Monday's illiquid trading session, which jerked both higher and lower before closing modestly in the green, US futures resumed their volatility and at last check were trading flat after earlier in the session rising and falling; Nasdaq futures retreated 0.1%. as investors weighed the risks to economic growth from hawkish Federal Reserve comments. Stocks in Europe dropped as markets reopened after the Easter holiday, while bonds around the globe slumped as investors weighed the prospect of aggressive policy action to curb inflation. Asian stocks also dropped as did oil, while the dollar extended its gains .  Treasuries extended declines, with the 10-year yield hitting a fresh three-year peak north of 2.90%. German and U.K. 10-year yields climbed to the highest since 2015 as bonds across Europe plunged.

The grotesque farce that is MMT came one step closer to total collapse as the yen dropped for a record 13th day, its longest-losing streak in at least half a century with the credibility of the BOJ - that central bank that launched MMT, QE and NIRP - now hanging by a thread. It wasn't all bad news however, because with the yen losing more of its purchasing power, Japanese stocks gained.

Disruptions to supply chains from China’s lockdowns and to commodity flows from the war are keeping pressure on central banks to rein in runaway prices at a time when global growth is tipped to slow. The World Bank cut its forecast for global economic expansion this year on Russia’s invasion.

Meanwhile, investors - already betting on an almost half-point Federal Reserve rate increase next month - continue monitoring comments from policy makers as prospects of monetary tightening weigh on the sentiment. St Louis Fed President James Bullard said the central bank needs to move quickly to raise interest rates to around 3.5% this year with multiple half-point hikes and that it shouldn’t rule out rate increases of 75 basis points. The last increase of such magnitude was in 1994.

“The Bullard comments really encapsulate the quandary that many of the world’s central banks have found themselves in,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior markets analyst at Oanda. “Luckily, they have plenty of excuses in the shape of the pandemic and the Ukraine war. Central banks can now play catchup, hike aggressively and run the risk of recessions. Getting the pain over and done may be the least worst option.”

Over in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Monday that Russian forces had begun the campaign to conquer the Donbas region in Ukraine’s east. Here are all the latest news and headlines over Ukraine:

  • Russia's Belgorod provincial Governor said a village near the Ukrainian border was struck by Ukraine, according to RIA. However, Sputnik noted that no casualties were reported.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says another stage of its operation is beginning
  • Russian Defence Ministry is calling on Ukrainian and foreign fighters to leave the metallurgical plant in Mauripol without arms and ammunition today, via Reuters; adding, the US and other Western countries do everything to drag out the Ukrainian military operation.
  • White House said US President Biden will hold a call with allies and partners on Tuesday to discuss continued support for Ukraine and efforts to hold Russia accountable, according to Reuters.
  • French Finance Minister Le Maire says an embargo on Russian oil is being worked on, adds that we have always said with President Macron that we want such an embargo, via Reuters; aims to convince the EU on such an embargo in the coming weeks.
  • Russia's Gazprom has not booked gas transit capacity via Yamal-Europe pipeline for May.

In premarket trading, Zendesk rose 4.1% in premarket trading after a report about the software company hiring a new adviser to explore a potential sale. NXP Semiconductors dropped 2.5% in premarket trading after Citi cut the stock to neutral from buy, saying in note that its thesis on margin expansion has played out. Other notable premarket movers include:

  • Amazon (AMZN US) could be active as Barclays analyst Ross Sandler is upbeat on it heading into 1Q results and sees gross merchandise value (GMV) accelerating on a 1-yr basis in 2Q.
  • Netgear (NTGR US) dropped 11% in extended trading Monday after reporting preliminary net revenue for the first quarter that trailed the average analyst estimate.
  • Super Micro Computer (SMCI US) climbed 15% after the maker of server and storage systems reported fiscal 3Q preliminary profit and sales that beat the average analyst estimate.
  • Acadia (ACAD US) shares declined in postmarket after it said Phase 2 clinical trial of the efficacy and safety of ACP-044 for acute pain following bunion removal surgery didn’t meet the primary endpoint.
  • WeWork (WE US) advanced in postmarket trading Monday as coverage starts with an overweight rating and $10 price target at Piper Sandler, which highlights that the co-working company is on track to achieve profitability by late 2023 or early 2024.

European stocks slumped with the Stoxx 600 dropping 1.1% led lower by healthcare and media shares as traders returned from a lengthy Easter holiday, with technology stocks also underperforming; the energy sub-index the only sector gaining in Europe in Tuesday trading as investors digest the recent rally in crude prices. Meanwhile in Russia equities fell for a second day with the benchmark MOEX Index dropping as Russia’s military pressed on with its offensive in southern and eastern Ukraine, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying Moscow had launched a new campaign focused on conquering the Donbas region. The MOEX dropped as much as 3.2%, adding to declines of 3.4% on Monday with Lukoil, Sberbank and Gazprom leading losses. Here are some of Europe's biggest movers:

  • TotalEnergies rises as much as 3.6% to the highest level since the end of last month after reporting higher refining margins, as well as better liquids and gas prices
  • Spectris gains as much as 6.3% after the firm said it will sell its Omega Engineering business to Arcline Investment Management for $525m, and also announced a GBP300m buyback program
  • Carrefour climbs as much as 3% as Berenberg upgrades to buy from hold, saying that higher inflation is making the food retail sector more challenging, but will also reveal outperformers
  • Virbac advances as much as 11% after the French maker of veterinary products raised the top end of its sales growth forecast. Oddo upgraded the stock to outperform.
  • Food delivery shares lead European tech lower as U.S. Treasury yields touch new highs following a hawkish comment from a Federal Reserve President, Just Eat Takeaway -4.5%; Delivery Hero -2.5%
  • European consumer staples and luxury stocks fall as markets reopen after a 4-day break, with higher inflation and looming interest-rate hikes at the forefront of investor worries
  • L’Oreal, which reports 1Q sales after the market close today, slumps as much as 4.1%; LVMH decreases as much as 1.9%, Hermes down as much as 4%
  • Wizz Air drops as much as 6.1% after being downgraded to reduce at HSBC, with the broker saying the low-cost airline’s decision to not hedge its fuel prior to the outbreak of the Ukraine war could bite
  • Adevinta falls as much as 9.8% after Bank of America downgraded to underperform from neutral on Thursday, due to the classifieds business’s large exposure to the automotive sector
  • Elior and SSP Group shares retreat after both are downgraded to hold from buy at Deutsche Bank on downside risks; Elior down as much as 3.7%, SSP as much as 6.1%

Earlier in the session, Hong Kong technology names declined on ongoing concerns over regulation. China dropped as investors assessed measures to tackle economic headwinds from Covid-led lockdowns.

Asian stocks declined for a third day, as continued concerns over China’s regulatory crackdowns and the prospect of aggressive monetary-policy tightening by the Federal Reserve weighed on sentiment. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 0.6%, with Chinese technology shares including Tencent and Alibaba the biggest drags after Beijing announced a “clean-up” of the video industry. Hong Kong stocks were the worst performers around the region as trading resumed after Easter holidays, while equities rose in Japan and South Korea. The People’s Bank of China on Monday announced measures to help businesses hit by Covid-19, as the latest economic data started to show the impact of extended lockdowns.

Investors are awaiting further easing with the release of China’s loan prime rates on Wednesday, after the central bank last week announced a smaller-than-expected cut in the reserve requirement for banks. Whether policy support measures will “flow significantly into the economy will be on watch,” and market participants may “want to see signs of recovery before taking on more risks in that aspect,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a strategist at IG Asia Pte. Hawkish Fed member James Bullard raised the possibility of a 75 basis-point hike in interest rates. Concerns of inflation and moves by the Fed and other central banks to fight it have driven the recent global equity selloff, with the Asian benchmark down about 11% this year.

In China, markets are also awaiting the release of banks’ benchmark lending rates on Wednesday after the People’s Bank of China reduced the reserve requirement ratio for most banks Friday but refrained from cutting interest rates. The latest policy measures “have really highlighted easing is required,” Gareth Nicholson, Nomura chief investment officer and head of discretionary portfolio management, said on Bloomberg Television. “The markets don’t believe enough has been done and they’re going to have to step it up.”

Japanese equities gained, rebounding after two days of losses as the continued weakening of the yen bolstered exporters. Electronics and auto makers were the biggest boosts to the Topix, which rose 0.8%. Tokyo Electron and Advantest were the largest contributors to a 0.7% rise in the Nikkei 225. The yen extended declines to a 13th straight day, its longest losing streak on record, falling through 128 per dollar.

Australian stocks also advanced, with the S&P/ASX 200 index rising 0.6% to close at 7,565.20 as trading resumed following Easter holidays. The energy and materials sectors gained the most.  Cleanaway was among the biggest gainers, climbing the most since April 2021 after a media report said KKR has been preparing an offer for the Australian waste management company. City Chic Collective was the biggest decliner, falling to its lowest since December 2020. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.5% to 11,835.88.

In rates, Treasuries slipped, with yields rising by as much as 6bps in the long end of the curv, however they traded off session lows reached during European morning as those markets reopened after a four-day holiday. Yields beyond the 5-year are higher by 3bp-4bp, 10-year by 3.3bp at 2.89% after rising above 2.90% earlier; U.K. and most euro-zone 10-year yields are higher by at least 5bp, correcting spreads vs U.S. created Monday when those markets were closed. The yield curve continues to steepen; 7- to 30-year yields reached new YTD highs, nearly 3% for 30-year. Japanese government bonds were mixed. Focal points for U.S. session are corporate new-issue calendar expected to include more financial offerings and comments by Chicago Fed President Evans.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed, after earlier rising to its highest since July 2020, and the dollar fell against almost all of its Group-of-10 peers. Commodity-related currencies and the Swedish krona were the best performers while the Japanese currency fell versus all of its G-10 peers. The yen extended its longest-losing streak in at least half a century, and touched 128.45 per dollar, its weakest level since May 2002, amid concerns over further widening in yield differentials. The euro reversed an Asia session loss even amid another round of bearish option bets in the front-end due to political risks. Bunds extended a slump, underperforming Treasuries, before a five-year debt sale and as money markets increased ECB tightening wagers. The Australian dollar surged against the yen to levels last seen almost seven year ago. RBA minutes said quicker inflation and a pickup in wage growth have moved up the likely timing of the first interest-rate increase since 2010. The New Zealand dollar also advanced; RBNZ Governor Orr reiterated the central bank’s aggressive rate stance. The pound was little changed and gilts slid, sending the U.K. 10-year yield to the highest since 2015 as money markets bet on a faster BOE policy tightening path.

In commodities, crude futures declined. WTI trades within Monday’s range, falling 1.5% to trade around $106. Brent falls 1.5% to ~$111. Most base metals trade in the green; LME copper rises 1.4%, outperforming peers. Spot gold is down 0.1% to $1,977/oz.

Bitcoin was flat and holding steady at the bottom of the sessions USD 40.6-41.2k parameters.

Looking at the day ahead, data is light with US March building permits, housing starts, and Canada March existing home sales. The IMF will also release their 2022 World Economic Outlook.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 4,401.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.8% to 456.07
  • MXAP down 0.4% to 171.55
  • MXAPJ down 0.3% to 570.60
  • Nikkei up 0.7% to 26,985.09
  • Topix up 0.8% to 1,895.70
  • Hang Seng Index down 2.3% to 21,027.76
  • Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,194.03
  • Sensex up 0.5% to 57,438.93
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.6% to 7,565.21
  • Kospi up 1.0% to 2,718.89
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 0.91%
  • Euro up 0.2% to $1.0808
  • Brent Futures down 0.7% to $112.40/bbl
  • Brent Futures down 0.7% to $112.40/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,979.91
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 100.73

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Record numbers of U.K. business leaders expect operating costs to soar this year as inflation proves more sticky than thought, according to a survey by Deloitte
  • French President Emmanuel Macron led his rival Marine Le Pen 55.5% to 44.5% ahead of the run-off presidential election set for April 24, according to a polling average calculated by Bloomberg on April 19. The gap between them has widened from the 8.2 percentage points recorded on April 15
  • Nationalist leader Marine Le Pen never led in the three campaigns she’s run for France’s top job, but a protectionist stance on economic issues in recent years has allowed her to reach some voters who traditionally backed left- wing candidates
  • China’s central bank announced a spate of measures to help an economy which has been hit by lockdowns to control the current Covid outbreak, but the focus on boosting credit likely means the chances for broad-based easing are shrinking

A more detailed breakdown courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks saw a mixed performance as more markets reopened and trade picked up from the holiday lull. ASX 200 gained on return from the extended weekend, led by strength in commodity-related sectors and top-weighted financials. Nikkei 225 briefly reclaimed the 27k level as continued currency depreciation underscored the Fed and BoJ policy divergence. Hang Seng was pressured as it took its first opportunity to react to the PBoC’s underwhelming policy decisions and with tech hit after Shanghai's market regulator summoned 12 e-commerce platforms including Meituan on price gouging during COVID outbreaks. Shanghai Comp was choppy as participants mulled over the latest virus-related developments including an increase in Shanghai deaths and the lockdown of five districts in the steel producing hub of Tangshan, although policy support pledges from the PBoC and NDRC ultimately provided a cushion.

Top Asian News

  • Japan’s Stepped-Up Warnings Fail to Stem Yen’s Slide Past 128
  • China’s Promises to Support Covid-Hit Economy Fail to Impress
  • China Tech Stocks Slump on Didi Delisting Plan, Regulation Woes
  • Sri Lanka Officially Requests Rapid IMF Funds Amid Crisis

European bourses are negative on the session but were choppy and rangebound for much of the morning before dropping further amid renewed yield upside, Euro Stoxx 50 -1.4%. Stateside, US futures have given up their initial positive performance and are now lower across the board, ES -0.3%, and the NQ -0.4% lags given yield action; session is focused on Fed speak and earnings with NFLX due. Truist Financial Corp (TFC) Q1 2022 (USD): Adj. EPS 1.23 (exp. 1.10), Revenue 5.32bln (exp. 5.47bln)

Top European News

  • Stellantis Idles One of Russia’s Last Auto Plants Left Running
  • Commodities Trader Gunvor Doubled Profits on Hot Gas Market
  • European Gas Falls to Lowest Since Russian Invasion of Ukraine
  • Credit Suisse’s Top China Banker Tu Steps Aside for New Role

FX:

  • USD/JPY breezes through more option barriers and disregards more chat from Japanese officials about demerits of Yen weakness; pair pulls up just pips shy of 128.50.
  • DXY tops 101.000 in response before pulling back as Europeans return from long Easter break.
  • Aussie outperforms as RBA minutes highlight more recognition about inflationary environment externally and internally.
  • Kiwi next best G10 currency as RBNZ Governor Orr underlines that policy is being weighted towards anchoring inflation expectations; AUD/USD hovers under 0.7400 and NZD/USD around 0.6750
  • Euro trying to hold near 1.0800 where 1.3bln option expiry interest rolls off at the NY cut, Pound regains 1.3000 plus status and Loonie pivots 1.2600 on the eve of Canadian CPI.
  • Yuan close to 6.4000 ahead of Chinese LPR rate verdict on Wednesday amidst heightened easing expectations.

Fixed income:

  • EU bonds correct lower after long Easter holiday weekend then pick up the baton to push US Treasuries even lower; Bunds giving up 154.00 and dropping to a 153.58 trough in short order and USTs lower to the tune of 7 ticks.
  • Decent demand for German Bobls, but high price in terms of yield and a larger retention - limited relief seen in the benchmark, given broader action.
  • Benchmark 10 year cash rates approaching new psychological marks of 1.0%, 2.0% and 3.0% in Bunds, Gilts and T-notes respectively.

Commodities

  • Crude benchmarks are softer after yesterday's firmer session, which was driven by Libya supply concerns, currently moving in tandem with broader equity performance awaiting fresh geopolitical developments.
  • Currently, WTI and Brent are modestly above session lows which reside sub USD 106/bbl and USD 111/bbl respectively.
  • OPEC+ produced 1.45mln BPD below targets during March, via Reuters citing a report; compliance 157% (132% in February).
  • Spot gold and silver are contained with the yellow metal pivoting USD 1975/oz while copper derives further impetus from Peru protest activity.
  • MMG said protesters at the Las Bambas copper mine alleged a failure to comply with social investment commitments, while it rejected the allegations and noted that Las Bambas will be unable to continue copper output as of April 20th.

US Event Calendar

  • 08:30: March Building Permits MoM, est. -2.4%, prior -1.9%, revised -1.6%
  • 08:30: March Housing Starts MoM, est. -1.6%, prior 6.8%
  • 08:30: March Building Permits, est. 1.82m, prior 1.86m, revised 1.87m
  • 08:30: March Housing Starts, est. 1.74m, prior 1.77m

Central Bank Speakers

  • 12:05: Fed’s Evans Speaks to Economic Club of New York

DB's Tim Wessel concludes the overnight wrap

Welcome back to another holiday-shortened week for many markets. What it lacks in tier one data releases, it makes up for with heavy hitting central bank speakers and a core European Presidential election. We’re also wading into the thick of earnings season, while the on-running war in Ukraine has the potential to tip markets in any direction at the speed of a headline.

Starting with the central bankers, President Lagarde and Chair Powell will sit on an IMF panel to discuss the global economy in the last Fed communications before their May meeting blackout period. The Fed has primed markets for a +50bp hike in May, and pricing has obliged, with futures placing a 98.1% probability of a +50bp rise, along with +246bps of tightening for the entire year. Governor Bailey won’t miss out on the action and is also delivering an address Thursday. Other Fed regional Presidents will speak throughout the week, with the Fed’s Beige Book due Wednesday. The IMF, meanwhile, will release their global outlook later today. As a reminder, DB Research updated our World Outlook earlier this month, where we are calling for recessions in the US and the euro area within the next two years. Plenty more in the link here.

US earnings season will diversify beyond the financials-heavy slate from last week. Today is a nice microcosm of the change up, showcasing earnings from Johnson & Johnson, Halliburton, Hasbro, Lockheed Martin, Netflix, and IBM.

On data the rest of the week, we’ll receive German PPI and Canadian CPI Wednesday, along with global PMIs Friday. US housing data dot the rest of the week, as we unravel the competing threads of tight inventories, heightened demand, and supply constraints, against higher mortgage rates on housing activity.

Finally, the second round of the French Presidential election is this coming Sunday. Politico’s latest polling aggregates still have incumbent President Macron outpacing Marine Le Pen by around 9% in Sunday’s runoff. Our Europe team has their takeaways from the first round here.

The ECB’s April meeting garnered top billing during the EMR’s long weekend (our Euro econ team’s full review here). Overlaid on an inflationary backdrop, the Governing Council is weighing the downside risk to growth against the upside risk to inflation stemming from the recent conflict. While uncertainty pervades, the latter risks are more pressing, which drove their decision to signal net APP purchases would end in Q3, paving the way for policy rate liftoff later this year. Our economists expect the last APP net purchases will occur in July, with the risk skewed toward June, with a +25bp liftoff in September. Markets have +11.8bps of hikes priced by July, +35.6bps by September, and +64.4bps of hikes through 2022.

There was no new tool to address market fragmentation, though the ECB signaled imperfect policy transmission would not stand in the way of lifting rates and a new tool would be created if need be. 10yr BTP spreads were -5.0bps tighter to bunds over the week, and +3.3bps wider the day of the meeting.

Elsewhere, as mentioned, a suite of US financials reported. Looking through the releases, it seems most FICC trading desks benefitted from the quarter of volatility and higher rates are set to improve margins. However, the prospect of an economic slowdown or potential exposures to war fallout cloud the outlook. S&P 500 financials were -2.65% lower on the week.

Taking a longer view of last week, sovereign yields marched higher on the back of tighter expected monetary policy, and the yield curve’s recent sharp steepening continued. 10yr Treasury and bund yields respectively increased +12.8bps (+12.9bps Thursday, +2.5bps yesterday) and +13.5bps (+7.6bps Thursday) with continued heightened volatility. Real yields drove most of the gains in the US (+10.2bps for the week, +4.6bps Thursday, -1.0bps yesterday), ending the week at -0.09%, the highest level since early 2020. 10yr real yields are now +101.7bps higher this year, having had their climb only briefly interrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The 2s10s Treasury curve steepened +19.1bps (+2.5bps Friday, +2.9bps yesterday).

There were not many positives to hang onto in Ukraine last week. Negotiation progress turned sour, President Biden labeled Russia’s invasion a ‘genocide’, and the US upped the provision of heavy weaponry to Ukraine, which was met with a diplomatic warning from Russia. The EU also pledged additional aid, while Finland began the process of applying for NATO membership and Sweden is reportedly considering the same. On the ground, Russian forces continued their eastern offensive, surrounding Ukrainian defenders of the port city Mariupol.

Along with the drag on sentiment, the International Energy Agency warned the full disruption to Russian oil supply had yet to bind, with as much as 3 million barrels of oil per day coming offline starting in May. Brent crude futures therefore climbed +8.7% (+2.68% Thursday, +1.31% yesterday), and closed yesterday at $113.16/bbl, their highest level in three weeks.

The S&P 500 fell -2.13% (-1.21% Thursday, -0.02% yesterday in a very quiet session) while the STOXX 600 managed to lose just -0.2% after a +0.7% rally Thursday into the holiday. In the S&P, energy (+3.53%) outperformed given the oil spike, while large cap stocks underperformed on the valuation hit wrought by rising yields, with FANG+ falling -4.81% (-3.16% Thursday, +0.25% yesterday).

Asian equity markets are ambivalent about returning after a long holiday, with the Hang Seng (-2.80%) leading regional losses. Mainland Chinese stocks are faring better, with the CSI dipping -0.38% while the Shanghai Composite is -0.03% lower. This, following the PBOC announcing yesterday increased financial support for industries, businesses, and people affected by Covid-19. Elsewhere, the Nikkei (+0.12%) and the Kospi (+0.90%) are up. Outside of Asia, S&P 500 (+0.20%) and Nasdaq (+0.28%) futures are both trading higher.

The RBA minutes overnight signaled they are not too far from joining the global tightening cycle, as they expect inflation to further increase above target.

The yen extended its depreciation streak against the US dollar, falling -0.58% to 127.73 per dollar, the weakest level since May 2002, as diverging monetary policy paths take their toll.

Oil prices and 10yr Treasury yields are little changed overnight; brent futures are +0.19% higher, while 10yr Treasury yields are -1.5bps lower.

To the day ahead, data is light on top of the aforementioned earnings, with US March building permits, housing starts, and Canada March existing home sales. The IMF will also release their 2022 World Economic Outlook.

Tyler Durden Tue, 04/19/2022 - 08:05

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Spread & Containment

ECB To Launch “First Line” Of Bond Crash Defense On Friday, Same Day QE Ends

ECB To Launch "First Line" Of Bond Crash Defense On Friday, Same Day QE Ends

For all those curious what the ECB’s "anti-spread tool", meant…

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ECB To Launch "First Line" Of Bond Crash Defense On Friday, Same Day QE Ends

For all those curious what the ECB's "anti-spread tool", meant to bring soaring Italian yields tighter in a time of rising rates and QT even as Europe scrambles to offset record inflation by tightening financial conditions (as discussed most recently in "The ECB Has A Huge Dilemma: Price Stability Or Bail Out Nations"), we got a small update earlier today when ECB President Christine Lagarde said that the central bank will activate one part of the bond-purchasing firepower it’s earmarked as "a first line of defense" against a possible debt-market crisis this coming Friday... which just "coincidentally" happens to be the day the ECB's QE ends!

“We have decided to apply this flexibility in reinvesting redemptions coming due in the PEPP portfolio as of 1 July,” Lagarde said Tuesday in a speech in Sintra, Portugal, where the ECB is holding its annual retreat.

“We will ensure that the orderly transmission of our policy stance throughout the euro area is preserved,” she said. “We will address every obstacle that may pose a threat to our price-stability mandate.”

As Bloomberg notes, the availability of pandemic reinvestments has been touted as an initial crisis-fighting tool since December, though the ECB didn’t choose to resort to that option until an emergency meeting on June 15 that followed a surge in Italian yields.

Unfortunately, that's as much detail as we are going to get, because once again there was generous use of the word flexibility”, this time in the context to how reinvestments from the ECB’s €1.7 trillion ($1.8 trillion) pandemic bond-buying portfolio are allocated, and which will be aimed at curbing unwarranted turmoil in government bonds as interest rates are lifted from record lows to curb unprecedented inflation.

In other words, just as we jokingly suggested some time ago, the ECB will do QT on even days, QE on odd ones.

Meanwhile, adding to the QE now, QT tomorrow confusion, net buying under the ECB's original asset-purchase program is also set to end on Friday, exposing the euro zone’s more-indebted nations to speculative attacks by investors, similar to the blowout in Italian yields already observed at the start of June.

But wait, there's more, because while Europe is desperate for deflationary gale force winds to blow away the runaway inflation that has put an end to the ECB's various easing deus ex machinas, many are convinced that the ECB is hiking into yet another recession which will be triggered by Russia which continues to cut off energy supplies, while there are also doubts in the ECB’s ability to avoid investor panic as it raises rates for the first time in a decade.

Following Lagarde's statement, Italian bonds trimmed declines, narrowing the 10-year yield premium over its German counterpart -- a key gauge of risk in the region -- by six basis points to 192 basis points, the lowest since Thursday.

The ECB is also working on a new bond-buying instrument to tackle the same issue -- known as fragmentation -- and is expected to announce something in the coming weeks. Lagarde said the tool will allow rates to rise “as far as necessary,” complementing efforts to stabilize inflation at the 2% target -- a quarter of the current level.

Of course, that will never happen and instead the moment the details of the "anti-fragmentation" mechanism are revealed and the market realizes just how powerless the ECB is, yields and spreads will blow out to multi-year highs.

Addressing the same event in Portugal, Governing Council member Martins Kazaks said he thinks “sterilization” to nullify the stimulative effect of bond purchases “should be part of the instrument.” The tool “should be a backstop,” used only when urgently needed, he said.

However, since there is no such thing as a deus ex machina, the moment the ECB unveils the specifics and details is when the next crisis begins, and the ECB knows that very well.

Separately, while describing the risk of a recession in the 19-member euro area as “non-trivial,” Kazaks said rates can be raised “quite quickly” and called front-loading hikes -- including a possible July move beyond the planned quarter-point -- “reasonable.”Lagarde backed the ECB’s base case for next month, but stressed the path for steady rate increases could be accelerated if price pressures worsen.

What the ECB should be worried about is how fast it will cut rates after its rate hikes spark the next recession and whether rates will hit a new record negative yield one year from today/

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/28/2022 - 12:00

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Bonds

Futures, Commodities Jump After China Cuts Quarantine

Futures, Commodities Jump After China Cuts Quarantine

US stock futures rebounded from Monday’s modest losses and traded near session highs…

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Futures, Commodities Jump After China Cuts Quarantine

US stock futures rebounded from Monday's modest losses and traded near session highs after China reduced quarantine times for inbound travelers by half - to seven days of centralized quarantine and three days of health monitoring at home -  the biggest shift yet in a Covid-19 policy that has left the world’s second-largest economy isolated as it continues to try and eliminate the virus. The move, which fueled optimism about stronger economic growth and boosted appetite for both commodities and risk assets, sent S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 contracts higher by 0.6% each at 7:15 a.m. in New York, setting up heavyweight technology stocks for a rebound. Mining and energy shares led gains in Europe’s Stoxx 600 and an Asian equity index erased losses to climb for a fourth session. 10Y TSY yields extended their move higher rising to 3.25% or about +5bps on the session, while the dollar and bitcoin were flat, and oil and commodity-linked currencies strengthened.

In premarket trading, the biggest mover was Kezar Life Sciences which soared 85% after reporting positive results for its lupus drug. On the other end, Robinhood shares fell 3.2%, paring a rally yesterday sparked by news that FTX is exploring whether to buy the company. In a statement, FTX head Sam Bankman-Fried said he is excited about the firm’s business prospects, but “there are no active M&A conversations with Robinhood." Here are some of the other most notable premarket movers"

  • Playtika (PLTK US) shares rallied 11% in premarket trading after a report that private equity firm Joffre Capital agreed to acquire a majority stake in the gaming company from a Chinese investment group for $21 a share.
  • Nike (NKE US) shares fell 2.3% in US premarket trading, with analysts reducing their price targets after the company gave a downbeat forecast for gross margin and said it was being cautious in its outlook for the China market.
  • Spirit Airlines (SAVE US) shares rise as much as 5% in US premarket trading after JetBlue boosted its all-cash bid in response to an increased offer by rival suitor Frontier in the days before a crucial shareholder vote.
  • Snowflake (SNOW US) rises 3.3% in US premarket trading after Jefferies upgraded the stock to buy from hold, saying its valuation is now “back to reality” and offers a good entry point given the software firm’s long-term targets.
  • Sutro Biopharma (STRO US) shares rise 34% in US premarket trading after the company and Astellas said they will collaborate to advance development of immunostimulatory antibody-drug conjugates, which are a modality for treating tumors and designed to boost anti-cancer activity.
  • State Street (STT US) shares could be in focus after Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to hold, while lowering EPS estimates and price targets across interest rate sensitive coverage of trust banks and online brokers.
  • US bank stocks may be volatile during Tuesday’s trading session after the lenders announced a wave of dividend increases following last week’s successful stress test results.

Stock rallies have proved fleeting this year as higher borrowing costs to fight inflation restrain economic activity in a range of nations. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde affirmed plans for an initial quarter-point increase in interest rates in July, but said policy makers are ready to step up action to tackle record inflation if warranted. Some analysts also argue still-bullish earnings estimates are too optimistic. Earnings revisions are a risk with the US economy set to slow next year, though China emerging from Covid strictures could act as a global buffer, according to Lorraine Tan, Morningstar director of equity research.

“You got a US slowdown in 2023 in terms of growth, but you have China hopefully coming out of its lockdowns,” Tan said on Bloomberg Radio.

In Europe, stocks are well bid with most European indexes up over 1%. Euro Stoxx 50 rose as much as 1.2% before drifting off the highs. Miners, energy and auto names outperform. The Stoxx 600 Basic Resources sub-index rises as much as 3.5% led by heavyweights Rio Tinto and Anglo American, as well as Polish copper producer KGHM and Finnish forestry companies Stora Enso and UPM- Kymmene. Iron ore and copper reversed losses after China eased its quarantine rules for new arrivals, while oil gained for a third session amid risks of supply disruptions. Iron ore in Singapore rose more than 4% after being firmly lower earlier in the session, while copper and other base metals also turned higher. Here are the biggest European movers:

  • Luxury stocks climb boosted by an easing of Covid-19 quarantine rules in the key market of China. LVMH shares rise as much as 2.5%, Richemont +3.1%, Kering +3%, Moncler +3%
  • Energy and mining stocks are the best-performing groups in the rising Stoxx Europe 600 index amid commodity gains. Shell shares rise as much as 3.8%, TotalEnergies +2.7%, BP +3.4%, Rio Tinto +4.6%, Glencore +3.9%
  • Banco Santander shares rise as much as 1.8% after a report that the Spanish bank has hired Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs for its bid to buy Mexico’s Banamex.
  • GN Store Nord shares gain as much as 4.2% after Nordea resumes coverage on the hearing devices company with a buy rating.
  • Swedish Match shares rise as much as 4% as Philip Morris International’s offer document regarding its bid for the company has been approved and registered by the Swedish FSA.
  • Wise shares decline as much as 15%, erasing earlier gains after the fintech firm reported full- year earnings. Citi said the results were “mixed,” with strong revenue growth being offset by lower profitability.
  • UK water stocks decline as JPMorgan says it is turning cautious on the sector on the view that future regulated returns could surprise to the downside, in a note cutting Severn Trent to underweight. Severn Trent shares fall as much as 6%, Pennon -7.7%, United Utilities -2.3%
  • Akzo Nobel falls as much as 4.5% in Amsterdam trading after the paint maker announced the appointment of former Sulzer leader Greg Poux-Guillaumeas chief executive officer, succeeding Thierry Vanlancker.
  • Danske Bank shares fall as much as 4%, as JPMorgan cut its rating on the stock to underweight, saying in a note that risks related to Swedish property will likely create some “speed bumps” for Nordic banks though should be manageable.

In the Bavarian Alps, limiting Russia’s profits from rising energy prices that fuel its war in Ukraine have been among the main topics of discussion at a Group of Seven summit. G-7 leaders agreed that they want ministers to urgently discuss and evaluate how the prices of Russian oil and gas can be curbed.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks erased earlier losses as China’s move to ease quarantine rules for inbound travelers bolstered sentiment. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 0.6% after falling by a similar magnitude. The benchmark is set for a fourth day of gains, led by the energy and utilities sectors. BHP and Toyota contributed the most to the gauge’s advance, while China’s technology firms were among the biggest losers as a plan by Tencent’s major backer to further cut its stake fueled concern of more profit-taking following a strong rally.   A move by Beijing to cut quarantine times for inbound travelers by half is helping cement gains which have made Chinese shares the world’s best-performing major equity market this month. The nation’s stocks are approaching a bull market even as their recent rise pushes them to overbought levels.

Still, the threat of a sharp slowdown in the world’s largest economy may pose a threat to the outlook. “US recession risk is still there and I think that’ll obviously have impact on global sectors,” Lorraine Tan, director of equity research at Morningstar, said on Bloomberg TV. “Even if we do get some China recovery in 2023, which could be a buffer for this region, it’s not going to offset the US or global recession.”  Most stock benchmarks in the region finished higher following China’s move to ease its travel rules. Main equity measures in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia rose while those in Taiwan and India fell. Overall, Asian stocks are on course to complete a monthly decline of about 4%.   

Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China pledged to keep monetary policy supportive to help the nation’s economy. It signaled that stimulus would likely focus on boosting credit rather than lowering interest rates.

Japanese stocks gained as investors adjusted positions heading into the end of the quarter.  The Topix Index rose 1.1% to 1,907.38 as of the market close in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7% to 27,049.47. Toyota Motor contributed most to the Topix’s gain, increasing 2.2%. Out of 2,170 shares in the index, 1,736 rose and 374 fell, while 60 were unchanged. “As the end of the April-June quarter approaches, there is a tendency for institutional investors to rebalance,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley. “It will be easier to buy into cheap stocks, which is a factor that will support the market in terms of supply and demand.”

India’s benchmark stock gauge ended flat after trading lower for most of the session as investors booked some profits after a three-day rally.  The S&P BSE Sensex closed little changed at 53,177.45 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index gained 0.1%.  Six of the the 19 sector sub-gauges compiled by BSE Ltd. dropped, led by consumer durables companies, while oil & gas firms were top performers.  ICICI Bank was among the prominent decliners on the Sensex, falling 1%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 17 rose and 13 fell.

In rates, fixed income sold off as treasuries remained under pressure with the 10Y yield rising as high as 3.26%, following steeper declines for euro-zone and UK bond markets for second straight day and after two ugly US auctions on Monday. Yields across the curve are higher by 2bp-5bp led by the 7-year ahead of the $40 billion auction. In Europe, several 10-year yields are 10bp higher on the day after comments by an ECB official spurred money markets to price in more policy tightening. WI 7Y yield at around 3.32% exceeds 7-year auction stops since March 2010 and compares with 2.777% last month. Monday’s 5-year auction drew a yield more than 3bp higher than its yield in pre-auction trading just before the bidding deadline, a sign dealers underestimated demand. Traders attributed the poor results to factors including short base eroded by last week’s rally, recently elevated market volatility discouraging market-making, and sub-par participation during what is a popular vacation week in the US. Focal points for US session include 7-year note auction at 1pm ET; a 5-year auction Monday produced notably weak demand metrics.

The belly of the German curve underperformed as markets focus  on hawkish comments from ECB officials: 5y bobl yields rose 10 bps near 1.46%, red pack euribors dropped 10-13 ticks and ECB-dated OIS rates priced in 163 basis points of tightening by year end.

In FX, Bloomberg dollar spot index is near flat as the greenback reversed earlier losses versus all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen while commodity currencies were the best performers. The euro rose above $1.06 before paring gains after ECB Governing Council member Martins Kazaks said the central bank should consider a first rate hike of more than a quarter-point if there are signs that high inflation readings are feeding expectations. Money markets ECB raised tightening wagers after his remarks. ECB President Lagarde later affirmed plans for an initial quarter-point increase in interest rates in July but said policy makers are ready to step up action to tackle record inflation if warranted. The ECB is likely to drain cash from the banking system to offset any bond purchases made to restrain borrowing costs for indebted euro-area members, Reuters reported, citing two sources it didn’t identify.

Elsewhere, the pound drifted against the dollar and euro after underperforming Monday, with focus on quarter-end flows, lingering Brexit risks and the UK economic outlook. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon due to speak later on how she plans to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence by the end of next year. The yen gave up an Asia session gain versus the dollar as US equity futures reversed losses. The Australian dollar rose after China cut its mandatory quarantine period to 10 days from three weeks for inbound visitors in its latest Covid-19 guidance. JPY was the weakest in G-10, drifting below 136 to the USD.

In commodities, oil rose for a third day with global output threats compounding already red-hot markets for physical supplies and as broader financial sentiment improved. Brent crude breached $117 a barrel on Tuesday, but some of the most notable moves in recent days have been in more specialist market gauges. A contract known as the Dated-to-Frontline swap -- an indicator of the strength in the key North Sea market underpinning much of the world’s crude pricing -- hit a record of more than $5 a barrel. The rally comes amid growing supply outages in Libya and Ecuador, exacerbating ongoing market tightness.

Oil prices also rose Tuesday as broader sentiment was boosted by China’s move to cut in half the time new arrivals must spend in isolation, the biggest shift yet in its pandemic policy. Meanwhile, the G-7 tasked ministers to urgently discuss an oil price cap on Russia. 

Finally, the prospect of additional supply from two of OPEC’s key producers also looks limited. On Monday Reuters reported that French President Emmanuel Macron told his US counterpart Joe Biden that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are already pumping almost as much as they can.

In the battered metals space, LME nickel rose 2.7%, outperforming peers and leading broad-based gains in the base-metals complex. Spot gold rises roughly $3 to trade near $1,826/oz

Looking to the day ahead now, data releases include the FHFA house price index for April, the advance goods trade balance and preliminary wholesale inventories for May, as well as the Conference Board’s consumer confidence for June and the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index. From central banks, we’ll hear from ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Lane, Elderson and Panetta, the Fed’s Daly, and BoE Deputy Governor Cunliffe. Finally, NATO leaders will be meeting in Madrid.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 3,922.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.6% to 417.65
  • MXAP up 0.4% to 162.36
  • MXAPJ up 0.4% to 539.85
  • Nikkei up 0.7% to 27,049.47
  • Topix up 1.1% to 1,907.38
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.9% to 22,418.97
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.9% to 3,409.21
  • Sensex down 0.3% to 52,990.39
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.9% to 6,763.64
  • Kospi up 0.8% to 2,422.09
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 1.62%
  • Euro little changed at $1.0587
  • Brent Futures up 1.4% to $116.65/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,828.78
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 103.89

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • In Tokyo’s financial circles, the trade is known as the widow- maker. The bet is simple: that the Bank of Japan, under growing pressure to stabilize the yen as it sinks to a 24-year low, will have to abandon its 0.25% cap on benchmark bond yields and let them soar, just as they already have in the US, Canada, Europe and across much of the developing world
  • Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco may leave his post in October, paving the way for the appointment of a high profile executive close to Premier Mario Draghi, daily Il Foglio reported
  • NATO is set to label China a “systemic challenge” when it outlines its new policy guidelines this week, while also highlighting Beijing’s deepening partnership with Russia, according to people familiar with the matter
  • The PBOC pledged to keep monetary policy supportive to aid the economy’s recovery, while signaling that stimulus would likely focus on boosting credit rather than lowering interest rates

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks were mixed with the region partially shrugging off the lacklustre handover from the US. ASX 200 was kept afloat with energy leading the gains amongst the commodity-related sectors. Nikkei 225 swung between gains and losses with upside capped by resistance above the 27K level. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were pressured amid weakness in tech and lingering default concerns as Sunac plans discussions on extending a CNY bond and with Evergrande facing a wind-up petition.

Top Asian News

  • China is to cut quarantine time for international travellers, according to state media cited by Reuters.
  • Shanghai Disneyland (DIS) will reopen on June 30th, according to Reuters.
  • PBoC injected CNY 110bln via 7-day reverse repos with the rate at 2.10% for a CNY 100bln net daily injection.
  • China's state planner official said China faces new challenges in stabilising jobs and prices due to COVID and risks from the Ukraine crisis, while the NDRC added they will not resort to flood-like stimulus but will roll out tools in its policy reserve in a timely way to cope with challenges, according to Reuters.
  • China's state planner NDRC says China is to cut gasoline and diesel retail prices by CNY 320/tonne and CNY 310/tonne respectively from June 29th.
  • BoJ may have been saddled with as much as JPY 600bln in unrealised losses on its JGB holdings earlier this month, as a widening gap between domestic and overseas monetary policy pushed yields higher and prices lower, according to Nikkei.

European bourses are firmer as sentiment picked up heading into the cash open amid encouraging Chinese COVID headlines. Sectors are mostly in the green with no clear theme. Base metals and Energy reside as the current winners and commodities feel a boost from China’s COVID updates. Stateside, US equity futures saw a leg higher in tandem with global counterparts, with the RTY narrowly outperforming. Twitter (TWTR) in recent weeks provided Tesla (TSLA) CEO Musk with historical tweet data and access to its so-called fire hose of tweets, according to WSJ sources.

Top European News

  • UK lawmakers voted 295-221 to support the Northern Ireland Protocol bill in the first of many parliamentary tests it will face during the months ahead, according to Reuters.
  • Scotland's First Minister Sturgeon will set out a plan today for holding a second Scottish Independence Referendum, according to BBC News.
  • ECB’s Kazaks Says Worth Looking at Larger Rate Hike in July
  • G-7 Latest: Leaders Want Urgent Evaluation of Energy Price Caps
  • Ex- UBS Staffer Wants Payout for Exposing $10 Billion Swiss Stash
  • SocGen Blames Clifford Chance in $483 Million Gold Suit
  • GSK’s £40 Billion Consumer Arm Picks Citi, UBS as Brokers
  • Russian Industry Faces Code Crisis as Critical Software Pulled

ECB

  • ECB's Lagarde said inflation in the euro area is undesirably high and it is projected to stay that way for some time to comeFragmentation tool, via the ECB.
  • ECB's Kazaks said 25bps in July and 50bps in September is the base case, via Bloomberg TV. Kazaks said it is worth looking at a 50bps hike in July and front-loading hikes might be reasonable. Fragmentation risks should not stand in the way of monetary policy normalisation. If necessary, the ECB will come up with tools to address fragmentation.
  • ECB's Wunsch said he is comfortable with a 50bps hike in September; adds that 200bps of hikes are needed relatively fast, and anti-fragmentation tool should have no limits if market moves are unwarranted, via Reuters.
  • Bank of Italy said Governor Visco's resignation is not on the table, according to a spokesperson cited by Reuters.

Fixed Income

  • Bond reversal continues amidst buoyant risk sentiment, hawkish ECB commentary and supply.
  • Bunds lose two more big figures between 146.80 peak and 144.85 trough, Gilts down to 112.06 from 112.86 at best and 10 year T-note retreats within 117-01/116-14 range

FX

  • DXY regroups on spot month end as yields rally and rebalancing factors offer support - index within 103.750-104.020 range vs Monday's 103.660 low.
  • Euro continues to encounter resistance above 1.0600 via 55 DMA (1.0614 today); Yen undermined by latest bond retreat and renewed risk appetite - Usd/Jpy eyes 136.00 from low 135.00 area and close to 134.50 yesterday.
  • Aussie breaches technical and psychological resistance with encouragement from China lifting or easing more Covid restrictions - Aud/Usd through 10 DMA at 0.6954.
  • Loonie and Norwegian Krona boosted by firm rebound in oil as France fans supply concerns due to limited Saudi and UAE production capacity - Usd/Cad sub-1.2850 and Eur/Nok under 10.3500.
  • Yuan receives another PBoC liquidity boost to compliment positive developments on the pandemic front, but Rand hampered by latest power cut warning issued by SA’s Eskom

Commodities

  • WTI and Brent futures were bolstered in early European hours amid encouragement seen from China's loosening of COVID restrictions.
  • Spot gold is uneventful, around USD 1,825/oz in what has been a sideways session for the bullion since the reopening overnight.
  • Base metals are posting broad gains across the complex - with LME copper back above USD 8,500/t amid China-related optimism.

US Event Calendar

  • 08:30: May Advance Goods Trade Balance, est. -$105b, prior -$105.9b, revised -$106.7b
  • 08:30: May Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 2.1%, prior 2.2%
    • May Retail Inventories MoM, est. 1.6%, prior 0.7%
  • 09:00: April S&P CS Composite-20 YoY, est. 21.15%, prior 21.17%
  • 09:00: April S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. 1.95%, prior 2.42%
  • 09:00: April FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 1.4%, prior 1.5%
  • 10:00: June Conf. Board Consumer Confidenc, est. 100.0, prior 106.4
    • Conf. Board Expectations, prior 77.5; Present Situation, prior 149.6
  • 10:00: June Richmond Fed Index, est. -5, prior -9

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

It's been a landmark night in our household as last night was the first time the 4-year-old twins slept without night nappies. So my task this morning after I send this to the publishers is to leave for the office before they all wake up so that any accidents are not my responsibility. Its hopefully the end of a near 7-year stretch of nappies being constantly around in their many different guises and states of unpleasantness. Maybe give it another 30-40 years and they'll be back.

Talking of unpleasantness, as we near the end of what’s generally been an awful H1 for markets, yesterday saw the relief rally from last week stall out, with another bond selloff and an equity performance that fluctuated between gains and losses before the S&P 500 (-0.30%) ended in negative territory.

In terms of the specific moves, sovereign bonds lost ground on both sides of the Atlantic, with yields on 10yr Treasuries up by +7.0bps following their -9.6bps decline from the previous week. That advance was led by real rates (+9.6bps), which look to have been supported by some decent second-tier data releases from the US during May yesterday. The preliminary reading for US durable goods orders surprised on the upside with a +0.7% gain (vs. +0.1% expected). Core capital goods orders also surprised on the upside with a +0.8% advance (vs. +0.2% expected). And pending home sales were unexpectedly up by +0.7% (vs. -4.0% expected). Collectively that gave investors a bit more confidence that growth was still in decent shape last month, which is something that will also offer the Fed more space to continue their campaign of rate hikes into H2. This morning 10yr USTs yields have eased -2.45 bps to 3.17% while 2yr yields (-4 bps) have also moved lower to 3.08%, as we go to press.

Staying at the front end, when it comes to those rate hikes, if you look at Fed funds futures they show that investors are still only expecting them to continue for another 9 months, with the peak rate in March or April 2023 before markets are pricing in at least a full 25bps rate cut by end-2023 from that point. I pointed out in my chart of the day yesterday (link here) that the median time historically from the last hike of the cycle to the first cut was only 4 months, and last time it was only 7 months between the final hike in December 2018 and the next cut in July 2019. So it wouldn’t be historically unusual if Fed funds did follow that pattern whether that fits my view or not.

Over in Europe yesterday there was an even more aggressive rise in yields, with those on 10yr bunds (+10.9bps), OATs (+11.0bps) and BTPs (+9.1bps) all rising on the day as they bounced back from their even larger declines over the previous week. That came as investors pared back their bets on a more dovish ECB that they’d made following the more negative tone last week, and the rate priced in by the December ECB meeting rose by +8.5bps on the day.

For equities, the major indices generally fluctuated between gains and losses through the day. The S&P 500 followed that pattern and ultimately fell -0.30%, which follows its best daily performance in over 2 years on Friday Quarter-end rebalancing flows seem set to drive markets back-and-forth price this week. Even with the decline yesterday, the index is +6.36% higher since its closing low less than a couple of weeks ago. And over in Europe, the STOXX 600 (+0.52%) posted a decent advance, although that masked regional divergences, including losses for the CAC 40 (-0.43%) and the FTSE MIB (-0.86%).

Energy stocks strongly outperformed in the index, supported by a further rise in oil prices that left both Brent crude (+1.74%) and WTI (+1.81%) higher on the day. G7 ministers reportedly agreed to explore a cap on Russian gas and oil exports, with the official mandate expected to be announced today, but it would take time for any mechanism to be developed. The impact on global oil supply is not clear: if Russia retaliates supply could go down, if this enables other third parties to import more Russian oil supply could go up. Elsewhere, political unrest in Libya and Ecuador could simultaneously hit oil supply. In early Asian trading, oil prices continue to move higher, with Brent futures up +1.13% at $116.39/bbl and WTI futures gaining +1% to just above the $110/bbl level.

Asian equity markets are struggling a bit this morning. The Hang Seng (-1.00%) is the largest underperformer amid a weakening in Chinese tech stocks whilst the Nikkei (-0.15%), Shanghai Composite (-0.15%) and CSI (-0.19%) are trading in negative territory in early trade. Elsewhere, the Kospi (-0.05%) is just below the flatline. US stock futures are slipping with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.12%) and NASDAQ 100 (-0.18%) both slightly lower.

In central bank news, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) Governor Yi Gang pledged to provide additional monetary support to the economy to recover from Covid outbreaks and lockdowns and other stresses. In a rare interview conducted in English, the central bank chief did caution though that the real interest rate is low thereby indicating limited room for large-scale monetary easing.

Turning to geopolitical developments, the G7 summit continued in Germany yesterday, and in a statement it said they would “further intensify our economic measures against Russia”. Separately, NATO announced that it will increase the number of high readiness forces to over 300,000, with the alliance’s leaders set to gather in Madrid from today. And we’re also expecting a new round of nuclear talks with Iran to take place at some point this week, something Henry mentioned in his latest Mapping Markets out yesterday (link here), which if successful could in time pave the way for Iranian oil to return to the global market.

Finally, whilst there were some decent May data releases from the US, the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing activity index for June fell to a 2-year low of -17.7 (vs. -6.5 expected).

To the day ahead now, and data releases include Germany’s GfK consumer confidence for July, French consumer confidence for June, whilst in the US there’s the FHFA house price index for April, the advance goods trade balance and preliminary wholesale inventories for May, as well as the Conference Board’s consumer confidence for June and the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index. From central banks, we’ll hear from ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Lane, Elderson and Panetta, the Fed’s Daly, and BoE Deputy Governor Cunliffe. Finally, NATO leaders will be meeting in Madrid.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/28/2022 - 08:00

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Is Bitcoin Really A Hedge Against Inflation?

The long-standing claim that bitcoin is a hedge against inflation has come to a fork in the road as inflation is soaring, but the bitcoin price is not.

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The long-standing claim that bitcoin is a hedge against inflation has come to a fork in the road as inflation is soaring, but the bitcoin price is not.

This is an opinion editorial by Jordan Wirsz, an investor, award-winning entrepreneur, author and podcast host.

Bitcoin’s correlation to inflation has been widely discussed since its inception. There are many narratives surrounding bitcoin’s meteoric rise over the last 13 years, but none so prevalent as the debasement of fiat currency, which is certainly considered inflationary. Now Bitcoin’s price is declining, leaving many Bitcoiners confused, as inflation is the highest it’s been in more than 40 years. How will inflation and monetary policy impact bitcoin’s price?

First, let’s discuss inflation. The Federal Reserve’s mandate includes an inflation target of 2%, yet we just printed an 8.6% consumer price inflation number for the month of May 2022. That is more than 400% of the Fed’s target. In reality, inflation is likely even higher than the CPI print. Wage inflation isn’t keeping up with actual inflation and households are starting to feel it big time. Consumer sentiment is now at an all-time low.

(Source)

Why isn’t bitcoin surging while inflation is running out of control? Although fiat debasement and inflation are correlated, they truly are two different things that can coexist in juxtaposition for periods of time. The narrative that bitcoin is an inflation hedge has been widely talked about, but bitcoin has behaved more as a barometer of monetary policy than of inflation.

Macro analysts and economists are feverishly debating our current inflationary environment, trying to find comparisons and correlations to inflationary periods in history — such as the 1940s and the 1970s — in an effort to forecast where we go from here. While there are certainly similarities to inflationary periods of the past, there is no precedent for bitcoin’s performance under circumstances such as these. Bitcoin was born only 13 years ago from the ashes of the Global Financial Crisis, which itself unleashed one of the greatest monetary expansions in history up until that time. For the last 13 years, bitcoin has seen an environment of easy monetary policy. The Fed has been dovish, and anytime hawkishness raised its ugly head, the markets rolled over and the Fed pivoted quickly to reestablish calm markets. Note that during the same period, bitcoin rose from pennies to $69,000, making it perhaps the greatest-performing asset of all time. The thesis has been that bitcoin is an “up and to the right asset,” but that thesis has never been challenged by a significantly tightening monetary policy environment, which we find ourselves at the present moment.

The old saying that “this time is different,” might actually prove to be true. The Fed can’t pivot to quell the markets this time. Inflation is wildly out of control and the Fed is starting from a near-zero rate environment. Here we are with 8.6% inflation and near-zero rates while staring recession straight in the eyes. The Fed is not hiking to cool the economy … It is hiking in the face of a cooling economy, with already one quarter of negative gross domestic product growth behind us in Q1, 2022. Quantitative tightening has only just begun. The Fed does not have the leeway to slow down or ease its tightening. It must, by mandate, continue to raise rates until inflation is under control. Meanwhile, the cost-conditions index already shows the biggest tightening in decades, with almost zero movement from the Fed. The mere hint of the Fed tightening spun the markets out of control.

(Source)

There is a big misconception in the market about the Fed and its commitment to raising rates. I often hear people say, “The Fed can’t raise rates because if they do, we won’t be able to afford our debt payments, so the Fed is bluffing and will pivot sooner than later.” That idea is just factually incorrect. The Fed has no limit as to the amount of money it can spend. Why? Because it can print money to make whatever debt payments are necessary to support the government from defaulting. It’s easy to make debt payments when you have a central bank to print your own currency, isn’t it?

I know what you’re thinking: “Wait a minute, you’re saying the Fed needs to kill inflation by raising rates. And if rates go up enough, the Fed can just print more money to pay for its higher interest payments, which is inflationary?”

Does your brain hurt yet?

This is the “debt spiral” and inflation conundrum that folks like Bitcoin legend Greg Foss talks about regularly.

Now let me be clear, the above discussion of that possible outcome is widely and vigorously debated. The Fed is an independent entity, and its mandate is not to print money to pay our debts. However, it is entirely possible that politicians make moves to change the Fed’s mandate given the potential for incredibly pernicious circumstances in the future. This complex topic and set of nuances deserves much more discussion and thought, but I’ll save that for another article in the near future.

Interestingly, when the Fed announced its intent to hike rates to kill inflation, the market didn’t wait for the Fed to do it … The market actually went ahead and did the Fed’s job for it. In the last six months, interest rates have roughly doubled — the fastest rate of change ever in the history of interest rates. Libor has jumped even more.

(Source)

This record rate-increase has included mortgage rates, which have also doubled in the last six months, sending shivers through the housing market and crushing home affordability at a rate of change unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

30-year mortgage rates have nearly doubled in the last six months.

All of this, with only a tiny, minuscule, 50 bps hike by the Fed and the very beginning of their rate hike and balance sheet runoff program, merely started in May! As you can see, the Fed barely moved an inch, while the markets crossed a chasm on their own accord. The Fed’s rhetoric alone sent a chilling effect through the markets that few expected. Look at the global growth optimism at new all-time lows:

(Source)

Despite the current volatility in the markets, the current miscalculation by investors is that the Fed will take its foot off the brake once inflation is under control and slowing. But the Fed can only control the demand side of the inflationary equation, not the supply side of the equation, which is where most of the inflationary pressure is coming from. In essence, the Fed is trying to use a screwdriver to cut a board of lumber. Wrong tool for the job. The result may very well be a cooling economy with persistent core inflation, which is not going to be the “soft landing” that many hope for.

Is the Fed actually hoping for a hard landing? One thought that comes to mind is that we may actually need a hard landing in order to give the Fed a pathway to reduce interest rates again. This would provide the government the possibility of actually servicing its debt with future tax revenue, versus finding a path to print money to pay for our debt service at persistently higher rates.

Although there are macro similarities between the 1940s, 1970s and the present, I think it ultimately provides less insight into the future direction of asset prices than the monetary policy cycles do.

Below is a chart of the rate of change of U.S. M2 money supply. You can see that 2020-2021 saw a record rise from the COVID-19 stimulus, but look at late 2021-present and you see one of the fastest rate-of-change drops in M2 money supply in recent history. 

(Source)

In theory, bitcoin is behaving exactly as it should in this environment. Record-easy monetary policy equals “number go up technology.” Record monetary tightening equals “number go down” price action. It is quite easy to ascertain that bitcoin’s price is tied less to inflation, and more to monetary policy and asset inflation/deflation (as opposed to core inflation). The chart below of the FRED M2 money supply resembles a less volatile bitcoin chart … “number go up” technology — up and to the right.

(Via St. Louis Fed)

Now, consider that for the first time since 2009 — actually the entire history of the FRED M2 chart — the M2 line is potentially making a significant direction turn to the downside (look closely). Bitcoin is only a 13-year-old experiment in correlation analysis that many are still theorizing upon, but if this correlation holds, then it stands to reason that bitcoin will be much more closely tied to monetary policy than it will inflation.

If the Fed finds itself needing to print significantly more money, it would potentially coincide with an uptick in M2. That event could reflect a “monetary policy change” significant enough to start a new bull market in bitcoin, regardless of whether or not the Fed starts easing rates.

I often think to myself, “What is the catalyst for people to allocate a portion of their portfolio to bitcoin?” I believe we are beginning to see that catalyst unfold right in front of us. Below is a total-bond-return index chart that demonstrates the significant losses bond holders are taking on the chin right now. 

(Source)

The “traditional 60/40” portfolio is getting destroyed on both sides simultaneously, for the first time in history. The traditional safe haven isn’t working this time around, which underscores the possibility that “this time is different.” Bonds may be a deadweight allocation for portfolios from now on — or worse.

It seems that most traditional portfolio strategies are broken or breaking. The only strategy that has worked consistently over the course of millennia is to build and secure wealth with the simple ownership of what is valuable. Work has always been valuable and that is why proof-of-work is tied to true forms of value. Bitcoin is the only thing that does this well in the digital world. Gold does it too, but compared to bitcoin, it cannot fulfill the needs of a modern, interconnected, global economy as well as its digital counterpart can. If bitcoin didn’t exist, then gold would be the only answer. Thankfully, bitcoin exists.

Regardless of whether inflation stays high or calms down to more normalized levels, the bottom line is clear: Bitcoin will likely start its next bull market when monetary policy changes, even if ever so slightly or indirectly.

This is a guest post by Jordan Wirsz. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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